Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Release date: March 28, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
I'm kind of two minds about Blood Rose Rebellion. In some ways, I really enjoyed the world Eves created, where the aristocracy partially maintains their power because of their magical abilities, and liked seeing Anna come to understand the world around her. At the same time, though, I was frustrated with Anna a lot of the time, I've seen reviews that mention inaccuracies--though that's obviously not something I can speak on personally--and there were things that just didn't feel right.

First, the good. The setting is just the kind of thing I love! Not only do we start in London, but Anna visits Hungary with her grandmother, a country we don't see a lot of in YA, and it makes for a different feel, and a culture that's enjoyable to learn more about. There's also a lot that's interesting about the magic of the world, with a lot of questions to be answered later on after the events of this book. I'll be curious to see the repercussions to come in the next book. I like when folklore and fairy tales come into play in a world with magic, so all the creatures from the Binding were one of my favorite parts.

On the other hand, Anna is more than a little bit frustrating. I found her to be naive and too changeable. She didn't commit to her decisions, and she's very self-centered, unable to see how her actions will affect others until she's faced with the consequences. And while I liked the eventual romance, it weirds me out that Anna kissed at least three guys in this book. Two seems sufficient, doesn't it?

Even so, enough interesting background was set up that I'm curious for what's to come. I have hope that Anna can grow from what she's experienced, and, hey, maybe she'll only kiss one guy! So, perhaps while I can't recommend it without reservation, Blood Rose Rebellion is an interesting read and a series I will continue.

About the author:

Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle. Her first book, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, comes out Spring 2017 from Knopf.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Release date: September 13, 2016
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 403
Format: ARC
Source: Traded
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.
It's no secret that I looooooooove Sharon Cameron's books. I'm still obsessed with Rook, and it's been...awhile...since I read it. So, when friends told me The Forgetting was her best book so far, I was excited, and a little scared. Honestly, I don't know how something could compare to Rook for me, so The Forgetting isn't her best book in my mind--however, it is excellent.

In Nadia's world, what isn't written down didn't happen. The Forgetting happens every twelve years, so people rely on their books to tell them about their pasts. But Nadia remembers. She's only experienced one Forgetting, but she knows what happened before, and the knowing is a danger to her and her family. She wants to know why they forget and why they have walls, just what they are hiding from.

Finding out these whys and whats alongside Nadia is a treat. Being in her head is fascinating, because Nadia is racing against the clock, fighting for the people she loves. She knows her world could emerge completely different after the Forgetting, and she's unwilling to let that happen. And the answers we get? COOL. It's not something you expect, and even once we know, there's more! You'll be guessing all the way through.

And it's not a Sharon Cameron book if I didn't love the romance! Gray is a bit of a mystery at first, but as he and Nadia get to know one another, their romance is a pleasure to read.

Don't take my saying The Forgetting is not my new favorite Sharon Cameron book as a negative! (I'm really thinking it's more genre-related than anything. I can't resist a retelling of a classic, especially one set in a world than feels like it's from the past but it's really the future!) That doesn't discount that The Forgetting is a truly excellent science fiction novel that'll keep you guessing till the end.


About the author:

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April Recap

I did slightly better this month! Not well, but better. I'm gonna take the win. I'm still reading quite a bit, though, so I'm going to be happy enough with this.

What books did I get?

I did okay with this, but I always manage to download too many egalleys. Without fail.


If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (signed and personalized!)
Rebels Rising by Shanna Swendson

Not the greatest job not buying books, but not terrible either. Hopefully next month will be better. Only thing I didn't buy was Rebel, which I traded for--and about DIED in excitement to get. My collection is perfect. Flora & Ulysses is for my class this summer. And I desperately wanted to go to the launch for Defy the Stars, but timing didn't work out. I did, however, order a signed copy from the event and picked it up, which made it a little better.

As for the egalleys, this may include a couple I got in March, because I didn't feature any in the last recap, but I can't remember exactly when I got all of them.




What did I post?

This is the same number of I posts from my last recap. However, the last recap was for two months! Double the posts!


I'm calling this a win for me, but I'm trying to do better!

What did I read?

Again, not embarrassing!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Perfect (Flawed #2) by Cecelia Ahern
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
The School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

See? I've been reading more than I thought I would, and have quite the backlog of books to review.

Currently reading: When Dimple Met Rishi (though I'll be done by the time this posts!)
Favorite of the month: I think I have to go with Alex, Approximately! I LOVED The Upside of Unrequited, but not as much as Simon, and I loved Born a Crime, but it's so different from my normal stuff, so I guess I'm counting it differently. I dunno. Why do I have to love so many books that I read?

What will I read?


I'm planning on reading heavily from my physical books this month, since I focused on ebooks last month. I didn't do the best with that, but that's okay. If you've seen my TBRs from before, you'll see a few holdovers. I'm really trying to get to them! 

What am I doing?

Well, I've finished my second semester of grad school! I haven't gotten my final grade back yet, but it looks like I'll have a 99 in one class and pass the other--which is a pass/fail pre-requisite--so I'm pleased! I also got to write a giant annotated bibliography on Disney attractions, which was a lot of fun.

I turned 25! I'm still a little salty about it, and kept asking if I could just turn 24 again, but no one told me I could. 

I will be starting summer classes pretty soon, but I'm only taking one. I'll have class through the middle of June and be freeeeee for a little while! I'm taking a class called Materials for Youth, so it shouldn't be too difficult--but it will be work intensive. Looks like we have pretty big assignments that involve reading a book due every 4 or 5 days, so I may...not be the best here. We'll see, I guess.

I'm also trying--again--not to spend money! I need to put it down in writing, and remind myself that I'm saving for school and Disney. Yes, I'm going to Disney World again in September. I might have a problem, but that's alright.


That's it! I'm crossing my fingers I'll be able to get more posts up this month, but we'll see! School has to come first, you know? (I do have at least one blog tour stop scheduled, so that'll happen for sure!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Release date: March 14, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
Though I love the Starbound series Meagan writes with Amie Kaufman, I haven't read any of her solo books, so I didn't quite know what to expect coming into Hunted. However, I'd seen a few friends raving and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite, so I was excited to try Meagan's adaptation. I'm even more excited to say that I loved it!

Hunted reminded me of one of my favorite author's Beauty and the Beast retellings: Robin McKinley. She has two: Beauty and Rose Daughter. I love them because they're lyrical, dark (more so in the case of Rose Daughter), and compelling. Hunted evokes a lot of the same moodiness, and it works more in the vein of the traditional fairy tales, hitting more complicated notes and emotions, giving the reader more to interpret and less to be told. While I don't always prefer my retellings this way, I do find the ones that strike those chords to be more resonant and stay with me longer.

Yeva is just the kind of girl we can get behind. She wants more from her life than what she's been offered, but she recognizes her duty to her family. She's actually happier in many ways when her father loses his fortune and her family is forced to live in a hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere. Her being different isn't as noticeable, and she can hunt. Her desire to hunt the Beast is understandable, and when she finally understands him and begins to soften, it makes sense.

However, Hunted isn't going to read like I think many people want from a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It's not overly romantic, there's no dancing, and our Beast is often more beastly that we're used to in our recent retellings. For me, this works, but I don't think it will work for everyone. Hunted reads more like an adult high fantasy in a lot of ways, so it's not going to appeal to every YA reader.

From the beginning of Hunted, I was entranced by the gorgeous writing and new yet familiar take on my favorite fairy tale. I was rewarded with a thoroughly beautiful story that reminded me of some of my favorite books, and a new hope that Meagan Spooner will write more books like this! (I'm happy with her sci-fi, but more fantasy, please?)


About the author:

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Release date: February 14, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
As soon as I read the synopsis for Gilded Cage, I was excited. Even as it sounded a bit like all the dystopian books that came out a few years ago, I loved the idea of it being set in an alternate modern day England. However, I quickly became, honestly, kind of bored with the book.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what doesn't work, but I think the biggest thing is that almost nothing really hits you. There's a lot packed into the book. A lot of characters. A lot of points of view. A lot of things that could be really interesting, but that aren't developed enough to give them the punch they need. Part of the problem is that we're switching point of view every chapter, and we're following stories in a couple of different places. Just when moments start to gain real momentum, the chapter ends and we're shifted to another part of the story. By the time we get back to that character, the momentum is gone. You have to play catch up.

This is worst with Luke's chapters. His involvement with the rebellion quickly becomes the most interesting storyline, but his is the only point of view involved that we get. While I see why the other POVs are involved, I could have done with a book that follows only Luke and probably been happier reading. Otherwise, I think the only other character that interested me was Silyen. Because his motives are completely inscrutable, you don't know what he's going to do. Maybe give me Luke and Silyen?

The romance is also a little upsetting. Abi is a slave. Jenner, even without any powers, is her master. Romance here is just a no. It gives me the icks and I don't like it. It also feels a lot like instalove; even though a lot of time passes that I'm sure they spend a lot of time together, we see very little of it, so their "attraction" feels baseless.

I'm sad not to have liked Gilded Cage because I was so excited by the premise. I'll probably give a look to the sequel when it comes out later this year, because I'm curious, but my interest may not go any farther. I read the whole book, but it was hard to get through for me, honestly.


About the author:

Vic lives in London’s Notting Hill, but her life is more action-adventure than rom-com.

She studied History and English at Merton College, Oxford where Tolkien was once professor. Relocating to Rome, she completed her doctorate in the Vatican Secret Archives (they’re nothing like The Da Vinci Code), then spent five years living in Tokyo where she learned Japanese and worked as a journalist. She now writes full time.

Vic has scuba-dived on Easter Island, camped at Everest Base Camp, voyaged on one of the last mailboats to St Helena, hang-glided across Rio de Janeiro, and swum the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. But there’s little she loves more than lying in bed till midday with a good book and a supply of her favourite biscuits.

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Recap (and a Little of February?)

Weeeeeell, I fell off the face of the earth again! I may not be doing the best with the whole working/school/blogging thing... I do try, but I find it hard at times to muster enthusiasm for getting on the computer and typing things up, especially after I've just finished an assignment. I'm reading, yet I'm not reviewing. So this should be an interesting recap!

What books did I get?

Considering this is two months, I feel no shame! I actually did buy a couple more Saturday, but that was the 1st of April, so that'll go in next month's. Muahahahaha.


Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Vanguard by Ann Aguirre
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

These are my review books! And all but one came in February,  I believe. I have a coworker I'll be passing Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies to, because she has a son who I think would enjoy it, and it's just not my style.


Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This is ALL I purchased, y'all! I had the benefit of a Disney trip looming, so I could hold myself back in buying books. I've literally already bought this many books in the month of April, so the next recap won't show such restraint.


Also, my copies of Caraval and A Million Worlds With You are from the Stephanie Garber signing in New Orleans I went to on Valentine's Day! She was so sweet and charming, and it was a really fun signing. I happened to see Claudia Gray tweet about being at the signing, so I brought a couple of her books I hadn't had signed yet and actually bought this last one at the bookstore, was totally creepy, and asked her to sign them for me! She was SO nice and seemed happy to do so. I was kind of sad that the only copy they had had been signed already, but I got it personalized, so that's okay. :)



And finally, books I won! I so rarely win things, so I was excited, and I've been interested in these books from the get-go. Plus, I won them from Becky! :D

What did I post?

This is going to be amusing, since this is representative of two months...


I said I did badly in my January recap, but I think this one wins. 

What did I read?

This is less embarrassing!

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries
Gilded Cage by Vic James
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Starfall by Melissa Landers
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
The Truth Above Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke

Currently reading: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
Favorite of February: Tie between Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Devil in Spring, but I also really loved The Dark Days Pact!
Favorite of March: Hunted

What will I read?

I didn't put together a picture for my TBR this month, because I'm planning on getting through a bunch of eARCs, if possible. Once my copy of Rebels Rising comes, I'll read that for sure, but otherwise, I'm going to focus on digital books because there are SO many backed up. Here are a few I'd like to get to, though:



What am I doing?

School and work. School and work. School and work. That's pretty much it! In February, we did take our trip to Disney World that I'd been so looking forward to. However, I got sick the second day we were there and it really put a damper on the trip. I kept going but... I definitely puked a lot.

I have seen Beauty and the Beast a total of 5 times at this point, so I've spent my fair share of time seeing that. I really love the adaptation!

It's my birthday this month! I'm excited because I love my birthday, but I'm not excited about turning 25. I think I wanted to be somewhere else in life than I am by this point. But I'm okay with things, really, especially being in grad school.


That's it for now! I'm going to go actually schedule some reviews now, so we'll have some real content this month!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore

Release date: January 31, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 342
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.
You know, How to Break a Boy was an interesting read. I expected something different from what it was, certainly something lighter and more straightforward, but I can't say it's not worthwhile.

At times, How to Break a Boy is actually hard to read. There are moments when Olivia is making the worst choices I could imagine, and I just wanted to smack her. It's hard to read about a character who is so different and who you know is making the wrong decision, but who believes she's making the right one. It's not that she's unlikable, especially by the end of the book, but Olivia truly doesn't know who she is--and I think that's what makes it worthwhile.

By the end of the book, Olivia still doesn't know who she is, but she's working on it. She's done so much to hurt people, but she's figuring it out--and that's why I think How to Break a Boy is interesting. It's the story of a girl who realizes her life is far from what she thought it was, and she breaks down in that realization. It's kind of like watching a train wreck, because you can't look away yet it's hard to endure.

But I really liked the romance! Whit really is exactly what Olivia needs, and you hate to see him get hurt. Moments between them are hard to read as well, because I just wanted Olivia to really open up and just give up on her vendetta against Adrienne.

Problem is, I think there are people who won't like the "mean girl" aspect of it. Olivia and Adrienne are truly awful to others and one another. The book doesn't make excuses for them, but it's hard to imagine they--Adrienne especially--have a good understanding of just what they're doing.

How to Break a Boy is a fascinating read. It's one I don't think will be for everyone, but it's a great character study of Olivia, warts and all. I'll definitely be looking for more from Laurie Devore.


About the author:

Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. She now lives and works in Chicago, where she misses the charms and contradictions of the south every day. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV,  and works a “y’all” into every conversation. How to Break a Boy is her first novel.